Price Creates President’s Advisory Committee on Institutional History

L. Gregory Jones, Dean of the Divinity School, will chair a new standing committee created by President Vincent E. Price to continue recent efforts to engage with and learn from Duke’s history.  

The President’s Advisory Committee on Institutional History will include faculty, staff, alumni, and students.  It will build on the work of the Commission on Memory and History, which was convened in 2017 to address the future of the empty niche on the portal of Duke Chapel after the statue of Robert E. Lee was vandalized and then removed.  In addition, the Commission established principles for future assessments of institutional history that were adopted by the Board of Trustees and will serve as a basis for future activity.

“This committee will be a source of valuable guidance to me as questions and issues arise regarding Duke’s history that would benefit from thoughtful and engaged consideration,” President Price said.  “The question of how Duke tells its own story in inclusive fullness and complexity is of deep interest to our community, and I’m grateful to the members of this committee for agreeing to undertake this important work.”

The committee’s charge for 2019-2020 academic year will include reviewing the current and prospective namings of Duke buildings and public places and their alignment with Duke’s principles; identifying buildings on the Duke campus that would benefit from public displays to highlight their histories; and recommending ways for members of the Duke community and campus visitors to engage with Duke’s history. The committee will review the work of other universities that have undertaken similar efforts and consult with constituencies in the Duke and Durham communities.

Serving along with Duke Divinity School Dean L. Gregory Jones M.Div.’85, Ph.D.’88 (Committee Chair) will be Jeff Baker, Professor of Pediatrics and Research Professor of History; Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist; Kerry Haynie, Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of Academic Council (ex officio); William E. King ’61, A.M.’63, Ph.D.’70, University Archivist Emeritus; Adriane D. Lentz-Smith, Associate Professor of History; Neil McWilliam, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Art and Art History; Deondra Rose, Assistant Professor of Public Policy; Michael Schoenfeld ’84, Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations; and community representative Bob Ashley ’70, former editor of the Durham Herald-Sun and former Interim Executive Director, Preservation Durham.  To be named in the late summer or early fall will be two student members (one graduate or professional student and one undergraduate student) and one alumni representative. Carolyn Gerber ’90, Special Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations, will serve as staff to the committee.